On the 19th anniversary of the Declaration of Principles (the Oslo I Accord) between Israel and the PLO, and on the 17th anniversary of the Interim Agreement (Oslo II), the Oslo process has hit rock bottom.
The Palestinian leaders warn about the danger of revoking the agreements and plan to ask the UN General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and chief negotiator Saeb Erekat have expressed the Palestinians' growing disappointment with the occupation, settlement expansion and the standstill in the peace process. The frustration from the unripe fruit of peace is undermining the position of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who is trying to quash any attempt to renew the terror attacks against Israelis.
The Oslo Accords were intended to pave the way to the occupation's end and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1990s. Giving Israel exclusive authority over Area C was meant to be a brief stage on the way to a permanent arrangement. The World Bank report released yesterday strengthens the Palestinians' claim that driving them out of this area, which covers more than 60 percent of the West Bank, restricts the development of an independent Palestinian economy and harms the Palestinian Authority's trade relations with countries around the world.
Hamas leaders objecting to the Oslo Accords have been joined by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who described the agreements designed to end the conflict as "the most dismal failure in our history." He called on Israel to reexamine them.
Meanwhile, at the end of the week the news came that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also doesn't believe in a peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors. Romney was recorded saying that "the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway [are] ... committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel." It would be reasonable to assume that Romney's conclusion - that the absence of a solution is preferable to a two-state solution - echo things he heard from his friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The idee fixe that preferred the status quo to a peace initiative already exacted a heavy price from Israel 39 years ago. Alarmingly, this destructive idee fixe is returning.
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